CHICAGO (Reuters) - Sarah Palin said a run for the White House in 2012 is “not on my radar screen right now” as the Republican carefully did not close the door to a possible candidacy in an interview that launched her big book tour.
Palin spoke to TV talk show hostess Oprah Winfrey as she began the roll-out to her memoir, “Going Rogue: An American Life.” Palin made clear she wanted to concentrate on the 2010 congressional elections in which Republicans hope to make inroads into Democratic majorities in the U.S. Congress.
“I’m concentrating on 2010 and making sure that we have issues to tackle,” Palin said in the interview taped last week and broadcast on Monday. “I don’t know what I’m going to be doing in 2012. (Running for president is) not on my radar screen right now.”
The former Alaska governor and unsuccessful 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate, who is popular among many U.S. conservatives, has embarked on a campaign-style media tour to promote Tuesday’s release of her book.
Her appearance on Winfrey’s program, one of the most watched daytime shows on U.S. television, comes as political insiders watch her every move to see if she may launch a bid for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
Winfrey actively supported Democrat Barack Obama during last year’s campaign.
Palin is to hit a dozen states during a book tour that will take her mostly to smaller cities. The initial printing of 1.5 million copies promises the memoir written with a ghost writer will be an instant best-seller.
If Palin is to seek higher office, she’ll have to overcome some political headwinds.
A Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 60 percent of those polled said Palin was not qualified to serve as president and 52 percent viewed her in unfavorable terms. Among Republicans, however, her positive rating was 76 percent.
The interview with Winfrey was interspersed with home video showing Palin playing with her grandson Tripp, exercising in shorts, and staying out of her daughter’s way during a Halloween trick-or-treating excursion in their hometown of Wasilla, Alaska.
A self-styled “hockey mom” during the 2008 campaign, Palin directed her at-times tart tongue at CBS TV anchorwoman Katie Couric and Levi Johnston, who fathered a child out-of-wedlock with Palin’s daughter Bristol and has since become a Palin critic.
Palin said Couric’s questions during their series of interviews during the campaign — which critics said exposed Palin’s lack of intellectual depth — had “annoyed” her and therefore left the perception she was “unqualified.”
“I thought she was asking about this Neanderthal tribe up there in Alaska,” Palin said of Couric’s questions about which newspapers and magazines she regularly read.
Palin recalled being confronted by Couric backstage following a thrilling campaign stop.
“There’s the perky one, with the microphone, with the questions,” Palin said disparagingly.
“You’re pretty perky, too,” Winfrey remarked.
Asked about Johnston, Palin said she did not want to respond to his criticisms, which have included comments that she is a poor parent and not getting along with husband Todd.
“We don’t want to mess up the gig he’s doing: aspiring porn,” Palin cracked, referring to his appearance in Playgirl, an online magazine that features nude men. “I also saw I didn’t go to hockey games. There are so many untruths.”
Levi is still welcome to come to dinner next week for the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday with the Palins, she added. “He’s family.”
Editing by Will Dunham and Steve Holland